Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State breaks away from West Viriginia in Big 12 win


Jacob Rice

Lexi Donarski yells in celebration of a three pointer at the ISU vs. Baylor women’s basketball game. Jan. 4, 2022.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

After a closely contested first half, No. 11 Iowa State was able to break away from West Virginia to secure its second consecutive Big 12 win. 

The Mountaineers went pound-for-pound with Iowa State’s offense, but some key threes helped the Cyclones create separation midway through the third quarter. After breaking away, Iowa State never looked back, putting the game away 70-50.

It wasn’t an easy start, but after falling into their rhythm, the Cyclones surged ahead to another conference win. 

Tale of two halves

West Virginia was able to match Iowa State in the first two quarters. Clutch threes and sloppy play on the Cyclones’ end resulted in a 37-37 scoreline headed into the half. 

But the tune changed in the third quarter. The shooters were able to fall into a rhythm and the defense clamped down on the Mountaineers. 

The Cyclones tacked on two more threes in the second half, generating some offensive momentum. The offense was also able to cut down on turnovers, while forcing more from West Virginia. 

Rebounds were amped up and the Cyclones found success taking the ball away. The Mountaineers were able to score 37 points in the first half, but an increase of defense pressure held them to 13 in the final two quarters. 

Continuous points

While some key components of Iowa State’s game failed to arrive until the second half, the Cyclone offense was consistent from the opening tip. 

Iowa State had to wait on the three ball, but the Cyclones found success in the paint. They shot 43% from the field, with 26 points down low. Pull-up jumpers from the backcourt and scores under the rim from seniors Stephanie Soares and Morgan Kane helped the Cyclones keep pace with West Virginia early on. 

As the offense began to find its rhythm, the Cyclones surged past a top defensive team in the country. 

Senior Ashley Joens led Iowa State with 19 points, but junior Lexi Donarski — who eclipsed 1,000 career points — and Soares also reached double figures in scoring. Despite two makes for junior Emily Ryan, the guard was able to command the offense, earning nine assists. 

Ashley Joens moves the ball up the court at the ISU vs. Baylor women’s basketball game. Jan. 4, 2022. (Jacob Rice)

Whether or not West Virginia could control the playmaking ability of Joens made the difference as it tried to remain competitive with Iowa State. Despite finding some success shutting down the All-American, she wasn’t held for long. 

Joens got off to a fast start, helping lead Iowa State to a quick six points in just under the first two minutes. After her first two scores, she was shut down for the quarter and was only able to find a three in the second, allowing West Virginia the opportunity to keep the game close. 

But the preseason All-American and midseason player of the year candidate was able to break free eventually. 

She combined for 12 points in the second half, nearly doubling her point total from the previous two quarters. Her ability to make plays coincided with Iowa State’s ascending offensive momentum. 

Joens finished the game shooting 6-15 from the field, including two makes from behind the arc. When she was able to shed the defensive pressure from West Virginia and generate offensive success, Iowa State put the Mountaineers in the rearview mirror.